The top game in the Big-10 for week 11 of the 2012 College Football season features the 24th ranked Northwestern Wildcats (7-2) traveling to Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, MI to take on the host Michigan Wolverines (6-3) Saturday afternoon (12:00pm ET). NU is a sterling 8-1 ATS this season, and has covered in three straight games including a 28-17 win at home over Iowa last week as a 4.5 point favorite. The Wolverines are 4-5 ATS this season, and last week’s 35-13 win at Minnesota as an 8 point favorite ended a two-game streak of failing to cover the line. Northwestern has won 1 of the last 7 games against Michigan, a 21-14 win in Ann Arbor I 2008 as a 3 point underdog.
The Northwestern offense ranks 52nd among FBS teams in scoring with an average of 30.4 points per game scored and 67th in total offense with 398.8 yards per game. All-purpose threat Kain Colter (517 yards passing, 622 yards rushing and 169 yards receiving) and running back Venric Mack (1,072 yards rushing, 9 TDs) are the top threats for the Wildcats offensively. The NU defense ranks 36th among FBS teams in scoring with 22.3 PPG allowed and 62nd in total defense with 393.8 YPG allowed.
Michigan has regressed offensively after last season’s breakout performance, and currently the Wolverines rank 61st among FBS teams in scoring with 28.8 PPG and 81st in total offense with 379.3 YPG. Quarterback Denard Robinson (1,319 yards passing, 946 yards rushing) has been erratic as a passer and fighting injuries all season long including a hand injury (probable for Saturday) currently. The Michigan defense has been a standout unit, ranking 13th in scoring defense with 16.8 PPG allowed and 8th in total defense with 288.7 YPG allowed.
Northwestern vs. Michigan Spread, Line and Betting Odds:
Northwestern Wildcats +10
@ Michigan Wolverines -10
Over 52.5 (-110)
Under 52.5 (-110)
Betting odds taken from Bovada.lv
Northwestern vs. Michigan Pick:
Northwestern has an 8-1 record ATS in their last 9 games overall, a 4-1 record ATS in their last 5 conference games and a 4-1 record ATS in their last 5 road games. Michigan is 10-26 ATS in their last 36 Big-10 games, 7-19-1 ATS in their last 27 games against a team with a winning record and 3-11 ATS in their last 14 November games. The under is 4-0 in NU’s last 4 November games, 10-3 in their last 13 games overall and 5-2 in their last 7 games against winning teams. The under is 11-4 in Michigan’s last 15 games against a team with a winning record and 5-2 in their last 7 home games against a team with a winning road record. In head-to-head play, the under is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings between the two teams, and the road team is 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings.
The trend in this series favors the under, as well as the recent trends for both teams. The total here looks like a 50/50 proposition at best, and is not an attractive play. With the Wildcats outstanding performance ATS this season, and Michigan’s very mediocre record of covering, the spread looks like the most attractive play here. Northwestern has been the more consistent team this season on both sides of the ball, and if you are able to bet the Wildcats receiving 10 or more points you should take it. Michigan has not covered against a quality team this year, including their losses to Nebraska, Notre Dame and Alabama; and their narrow win over Air Force. Take the Wildcats in this game.
PICK = Northwestern +10